I stood in the woods and wept. I curled my arms around a slender tree and cried. There was nothing lonely about it. I bent into a crevice and wailed with a whisper. They took everything, I said. I wept for the year that had led me to a cliff and cut the cuffs off my ankles. They didn’t push, they just urged me to flight. The rest is a blur of sun and air. I fell into the lap of a thousand companions who only revealed their faces in the dark. The same thing happened night after night. They released me only to plunge. I found flight in moments, but mostly I just learned to fall. I rested my head against the tree, and said. May this year be gentler. I am tired. I wept into the woman I had become and the forest cleared me of my fear. I lay down under that slender tree and waited for the rain to drop. Cleanse me of this, I wanted to say. But the call was not for purification, but for release. I opened my feathered arms and nestled between earth and sky. I moved nothing. I just rested like a delicate branch on an old tree. A squirrel scurried over my elbows and shoulders. A cardinal landed on my ear. I watched the world move under me like an earthquake opening into a canyon. I kept waiting for the moment I would part. But I hovered in the middle of the forest without making a sound. My sorrow sank to my roots and I opened my branches into joy. I cannot tell you I have learned to fly. But perhaps, old friend, I am learning to rest.
~ Originally appeared in The Fiddlehead, Issue 286, Winter 2021.